Urgent Conversations

Roya Mohammad, Staff Writer

The Los Medanos College Social Science Department is hosting a four-part series of events called “Urgent Conversations” in order to inform students and teachers on the topics of equity and social justice, while also providing tools, ideas and curriculum to help support teachers and students during these sensitive times. The first part in the series was a History of Social Protest, held July 6, and the recent meeting was Culturally Relevant Teaching, held August 3. 

LMC Social Justice Studies Coordinator Dr. Adrianna Simone began her presentation on culturally relevant teaching with the topic of differences in learning styles, and better teaching strategies that are available. Simone spoke of the importance of getting to know the students, while also being aware of cultural bias. Some strategies are learning student names, self identifies, a mid semester check in, and an end of the semester evaluation.

Another teaching strategy Simone suggested using was assessments. A teacher can create a questionnaire to ask and gather information about their students such as their other classes, jobs, and responsibilities. A mid semester check in and an end of the semester evaluation can be used to get an update from students and to address their concerns. 

She also spoke on the importance of diversity in classrooms. Lessons should include information that is culturally varied and relevant such as including lectures, authors, films and documentaries of every race and ethnicity. 

“I like to integrate contemporary issues that relate to what they are reading about in the course textbooks or articles,” said Simone. 

Simone concluded her presentation by emphasizing that when teachers use these methods it reveals their desire for an authentic and caring relationship with their students by creating a relationship of trust and respect, which are critical ingredients for learning. 

Another presenter, LMC United States History and Women’s History Instructor Courtney Goen, spoke about the importance of mastering student names. By not spelling names correctly or saying certain names incorrectly, teachers set an expectation of what normal names are and what aren’t.

“Learn all of your students’ names, how to spell them, and how to pronounce them. For online teaching, include names in announcements, discussions and general feedback,” said Goen. 

Thyra Cobbs, the Commissioner of Publicity and Outreach for the Los Medanos College Associated Students, recommended platforms such as Khan Academy, Youtube, Podcasts, and Kanopy because teachers and their lessons influence how students see themselves. 

“The educational system in the United States was not built for African American students and so there is a lot of work we need to do,” said Cobbs. 

The next part in the series is being held on Wednesday, Sept. 9 from 2-3:30 p.m. on the history of policing in the United States. This meeting will present the history of how policing developed in the United States, examples of how police sanctioned violence and use of force has developed, and provide tools to comprehend current calls to defund and abolish the police. If you would like to learn more, please contact the LMC Social Sciences Department.